To say that 2014-15 has been a breakout season for Mike Hoffman would be an understatement. While many people saw signs of promise in the forward during his previous brief stints with the Senators, he has certainly made a splash with both fans and management so far this year.
With 22 points (15 G, 7 A) in 39 games this season, Hoffman is the Sens' top goal scorer, and leads the team in +/- with +18. He played on one of the most electric lines that the Sens have seen in years; "the kid line" with Curtis Lazar and Mark Stone. Since then, he has spent significant time on the team's top six, finding chemistry with players like Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan. Not bad for a player drafted in the 5th round (130th overall) in the 2009 NHL entry draft.
As a Binghamton Senator, Hoffman put up fairly consistent numbers:
- 2013-14: 67 points in 51 games
- 2012-13: 28 points in 41 games
- 2011-12: 49 points in 76 games
Signing Hoffman will certainly be a priority for the team. There is little to no doubt that the Senators want Mike Hoffman as part of this team going forward. The question is: What should they pay him, and for how long? We've seen young guys burst onto the scene and put up impressive numbers, only to disappear not long after receiving a well-paying contract.
The key here is to give him the term and money that will keep him happy, while not risking too much for the team. This is Hoffman's first full season with the Senators. One season is not quite enough time to evaluate a player's potential in the NHL, so management probably won't sign him for the long term. Not yet, anyways.
To put things in perspective, let's take a look at some other players with similar point production to Hoffman this season:
|Player||Birth Year||PPG||Contract||Cap Hit|
|Nino Niederreiter||1992||0.48||3 year/$8 million||$2.6 million|
|Eric Fehr||1985||0.54||2 year/$3 million||$1.5 million|
|Sean Couturier||1992||0.49||2 year/$3.5 million||$1.75 million|
|Reilly Smith||1991||0.48||1 year/$1.4 million||$1.4 million|
|Justin Abdelkader||1987||0.66||4 year/$7.2 million||$1.8 million|
(Note: Contract information is courtesy of NHLNumbers and Hockey Reference.)
While it's hard not to get excited about Hoffman's production this season, this is his first full season in the NHL. So it's probably best to sign him to a moderate contract: 3 year/$7.5 million with an annual cap hit of $2.5 million. That being said, I could see management going a little higher, given his impressive numbers this year. But they are just that: Impressive numbers for one year.
As excited as we all get about Mike Hoffman's play this year (believe me, I understand), we have to remember that it has only been one year. He will have to show that he can maintain this production for at least a couple of seasons before he gets a long-term deal.